NASHVILLE (WSMV) - Just days after a bill passed the Tennessee Senate and House, both sides are weighing in on the controversial permitless carry bill.

Currently, in Tennessee, you are required to take an 8-hour in-person class or a 90-minute online course in order to receive your permit to legally carry a gun. 

This new law, which just needs a signature from Governor Bill Lee, would no longer require this. Instead, it allows for anyone 21 and older to carry without a permit for open or concealed carry.

Right now in Tennessee it is a misdemeanor to carry a gun without a permit, however, the bill would remove that.

The bill does, however, raise the punishment to a felony from a misdemeanor for anyone that might steal a firearm.

A representative that supports the bill says he does think taking the courses should still happen, but is more about expanding freedoms of the second amendment right to citizens.

"I would also say I think it's important for people to get a permit," says GOP Representative Jeremy Faison. He continued, saying, "I think it's important to recognize that your second amendment is your right to carry, and as long as you're carrying legally, and you're a law abiding citizen, you ought to be allowed to carry in Tennessee without a permit."

This bill does not take away any property rights, so if a school or church does not allow firearms on their property, people still cannot cross that line.

In a series of tweets, Governor Lee wrote that this law is core to our public safety agenda this year. 

He also firmly believes that penalizing people is not a solution for reducing crime. Governor Lee says the law will protect the rights of Tennesseans while increasing penalties on those who steal or unlawfully possess a firearm.

Moms Demand Action Tennessee, a group that pushes for solutions to address gun violence in the country, is speaking out against the bill, voicing their disappointment of Governor Lee's decision to support it.

"The reason I'm disappointed is because it shows that our governor and our legislatures don’t care about what their constituents want," said Jessie McKinney, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action in Tennessee. "It sounds like they’re too invested in doing the work of the extreme NRA gun lobby rather than doing what they need to do to keep us safe," she continued.

Jessie says she wants Governor Lee to stop listening to the NRA and extremist gun lobby and start listening to to his constituents. 

"I think it’s important to remember that our second amendment rights are part of our bill of rights and they’re an important part of our constitution and part of what makes the fabric of our society," McKinney says. "But the Supreme Court has upheld that permits are not an infringement upon those second amendment rights. Our permit system in the state of Tennessee, which is required to carry a loaded, concealed handgun in public. It ensures that those people have undertaken a minimum level of safety training so they know at a minimum how to operate that gun safely. And it also ensures that they have gone through a background check."

Tennessee House Democratic Chair Vincent Dixie also spoke out against the bill.

When asked if he believed that Tennessee would be a safer state if the Governor signs this into law he said, "Not at all. There's no way this makes it any safer at all. You're putting guns in the hands of people who are not trained, who do not have the expertise in order to make split second decisions." 

Dixie continued on saying, "I would ask that we respect what our law enforcement agencies that opposed this bill over and over again."

He also expressed fear of seeing an increase in gun violence and in the interest of "backing the blue," the Governor should reconsider signing this into law.

There is not a specific date set as of this time for when this will be signed.

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Content Producer

Blake was born and raised in Central Ohio where he began working in TV broadcast in 2011 before moving into morning radio. Blake joined the WSMV team in October 2019. Any news stories and ideas can be sent directly to blake.summers@wsmv.com

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